Day five in the Dakar was a confusing one, with exceptionally difficult navigation across the trackless Atacama dunes providing most of the issues. Another was that mechanical problems and crashes started showing up; leader Marc Coma had both, with a fall and a radiator problem that he managed to fix.
Both Coma and eventual day winner Paolo Goncalves – Goncalves on the BMW Motorrad by Speedbrain G 450RR, the first non-KTM to win a day – stopped to help French rider Olivier Pain who crashed hard, breaking a wrist and knocking himself out.
Goncalves in fact finished second on actual time behind Aprilia-mounted Chilean Francisco Lopez Contardo, but on corrected time (riders are given credit for time stopped to help competitors) the Portuguese rider took the day and solidified fourth overall, only three minutes behind Lopez and 10 ahead of countryman Helder Rodriguez on a WR450 Yamaha.
“It was a very difficult stage, very long but also very beautiful," Goncalves said. "I think I rode it well. After the refuelling point, I stopped to help Olivier Pain who had fallen. The rules say we should stop. I waited for four to five minutes. The main thing is that he’s okay.”
Second-place Cyril Despres shrugged off yesterday’s 10-minute penalty: “I was told at half past four in the morning that I’d been given a penalty. I just forgot my thermal gloves, so I went back to get them and I didn’t see that there were signposts I had to follow at the exit. Unfortunately, for me, that’s the race rules, but I’ve already forgotten about it with what I experienced today.”
Day 6, from Iquique on the coast to Arica, near the Peruvian border, loops a total of 721 km, with a 456 km special stage. There will be considerable time spent in the desert’s huge dunes, but also long stretches of “fesh-fesh”, fine dust that looks solid but acts like mud when you hit it.
Here’s the Stage 5 summary in video: